Popular Edo-period Townscape Close to Tokyo
Kawagoe, a town located near Tokyo, offers a unique experience that transports visitors back in time to the Edo period. Known as “Little Edo” or Koedo, Kawagoe provides a glimpse into japan‘s rich history from around 120 years ago. With its well-preserved old merchant storehouses, traditional shops, bell tower, castle, and temple, Kawagoe showcases the vibrant past of the area when it thrived as a bustling transportation and commerce hub.
Don’t Miss: Exploring Koedo Kawagoe’s Old Warehouse District
One of the highlights of Kawagoe is its old warehouse district, which features massive earthen buildings. These buildings, made of clay and straw, were used to store goods during the Edo period. Today, they serve as a reminder of the town’s prosperous past. Walking through this district feels like stepping back in time, as the buildings have retained their original exteriors and some are now home to shops and restaurants.
Kitain Temple: A Treasure Trove of Buddha Statues
Another must-visit attraction in Kawagoe is Kitain Temple, known for its impressive collection of 538 Buddha statues. These statues were carved over a span of 50 years during the Edo period and each has its own unique features and expressions. Kitain Temple is the head temple for the Tendai Sect in the Kanto region and was patronized by the ruling Tokugawa shogunate during the Edo period. The temple complex offers a serene and spiritual atmosphere, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich religious history of Japan.
Exploring Candy Street: A Sweet Delight
No visit to Kawagoe is complete without a stroll down Candy Street. This charming street is lined with around 20 candy shops that sell traditional Japanese sweets. In its heyday during the Edo period, Candy Street had as many as 70 shops and was a major production area for confectionery in Japan. Today, visitors can indulge in a variety of delicious treats while enjoying the nostalgic atmosphere of this historic street.
Travel Through Time in Koedo Kawagoe
Koedo Kawagoe offers a unique opportunity to experience Japan as it was around 120 years ago. The town flourished as a transportation and commerce hub, and today, it still retains its Edo-period charm. Walking along the highway where the Shingashi River meets the old Kawagoe Road, visitors can imagine what life was like during this prosperous era. The town is filled with old historic buildings, museums, and shops that transport visitors back in time.
Streets Lined with Storehouses
At the heart of Koedo Kawagoe lies the Storehouse District, a stretch of Kurazukuri Street lined with old merchant storehouses. These buildings were once used to store goods and materials, and many of them have been repurposed as shops and restaurants today. The Storehouse District is a testament to the town’s rich history and serves as a reminder of its commercial importance during the Edo period.
The Famous Bell Tower
One of the main landmarks in the Storehouse District is the bell tower, known as Toki no Kane. This iconic structure still rings four times a day, serving as a timekeeper for the town. Visitors can admire the tower’s beautiful architecture and listen to its melodic chimes, which add to the nostalgic ambiance of Koedo Kawagoe.
Experience the Taisho Era in Kawagoe
While Koedo Kawagoe is known for its Edo-period charm, the town also offers a glimpse into the Taisho era (1912-1926). Taisho-Roman Street, located in Kawagoe, captures the retro atmosphere of this period with its paved streets, elegant atmosphere, and Western-style buildings. The street has been featured in many films set in the Taisho era and provides a picturesque backdrop for a leisurely stroll.
Kawagoe Castle Ruins: A Window into the Past
Koedo Kawagoe is also home to the Honmaru Goten, the only remaining building of Kawagoe Castle. This innermost palace of the castle served as the lord’s residence and personal offices during the Edo period. Honmaru Goten played a crucial role as a satellite fortress for Edo Castle in the early years of the Edo period. Exploring the castle ruins allows visitors to imagine the grandeur and significance of Kawagoe Castle during its heyday.
For Further Exploration, Shrine Hop Through the Area
Nearby Kawagoe Hikawa-jinja Shrine offers another opportunity to delve into the region’s rich history. Founded in the sixth century, this shrine boasts a massive 15-meter torii gate and features trees in its garden that are over 500 years old. The shrine provides a tranquil escape from the bustling streets of Kawagoe and allows visitors to connect with the spirituality and traditions of Japan.
How to Get There
Kawagoe is conveniently located just 45 minutes from central Tokyo in southwestern Saitama Prefecture. The easiest way to reach Kawagoe is by train, specifically the Seibu Shinjuku Express from Seibu Shinjuku Station to Hon-Kawagoe Station. The limited express train takes approximately 45 minutes, and Seibu Shinjuku Station is just a five-minute walk from Shinjuku Station’s east exit.
In conclusion, Kawagoe offers visitors a unique opportunity to travel back in time and experience the Edo period in Japan. From its well-preserved old merchant storehouses and traditional shops to its iconic bell tower and Kitain Temple’s Buddha statues, Kawagoe provides a fascinating glimpse into the town’s prosperous past. Exploring the streets lined with storehouses and indulging in the sweet delights of Candy Street are unforgettable experiences. Additionally, the town’s Taisho-era atmosphere and the remnants of Kawagoe Castle further enrich the visit. Whether it’s immersing oneself in history or simply enjoying the charm of a bygone era, Kawagoe is a must-visit destination for those seeking to discover the rich cultural heritage of Japan.
Address And Maps Location:
1-3-1 Moto-machi, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken